Two points and two races to go.
Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Daniel Suarez and Clint Bowyer are the ones fighting for the final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff spot, with Suarez jumping onto the grid after Bristol. Stage points and a top-10 finish made that happen, although Bowyer was just one spot ahead in the finishing order.
Neither driver wants to be in this position, but their intra-team duel provides plenty to watch as the regular season now has just two weeks to go; Darlington and Indianapolis are all that’s left before the 2019 postseason field is set. Winless this season, neither Suarez or Bowyer has won at either of the final two tracks.
Atop the playoff grid, it’s still Kyle Busch. Another unimpressive weekend for Joey Logano has the reigning champion losing ground in the fight for the 15 extra playoff points that come with the regular-season title. While Busch and his team as doing what’s needed down the stretch, Logano and company are sliding at the wrong time.
Speaking of playoff points, another win for Denny Hamlin has made his pile higher. In doing so, Hamlin is now on the same wavelength as drivers like Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. who have also built a solid playoff points cushion to use once the postseason starts.
Bristol was a terrible night for Aric Almirola as he crashed twice and finished 29th. Although he still has over a race advantage on the cutline, Almirola lost 27 points over the weekend.
Lastly, the idea of Jimmie Johnson not being a part of the playoffs for the first time is closer to becoming a reality. Johnson lost more ground in Bristol and is just about in must-win territory.
Here is the playoff grid as it currently stands with two races to go, with a reminder the grid will be reseeded at the end of the regular season when additional points are awarded to the top 10. Kyle Busch is the overall championship point leader.
Kyle Busch: 4 race wins, 29 playoff points
Denny Hamlin: 4 race wins, 23 playoff points
Martin Truex Jr.: 4 race wins, 23 playoff points
Brad Keselowski: 3 race wins, 19 playoff points
Joey Logano: 2 race wins, 17 playoff points
Kevin Harvick: 2 race wins, 14 playoff points
Chase Elliott: 2 race wins, 14 playoff points
Kurt Busch: 1 race win, 7 playoff points
Alex Bowman: 1 race win, 5 playoff points
Ryan Blaney: +97 on cutoff, 2 playoff points
Kyle Larson: +76 on cutoff, 4 playoff points
William Byron: +75 on cutoff, 1 playoff point
Aric Almirola: +65 on cutoff, 1 playoff points
Erik Jones: +57 on cutoff, 0 playoff points
Ryan Newman: +14 on cutoff, 0 playoff points
Daniel Suarez: +2 on cutline, 0 playoff points
Below the cutoff line are Clint Bowyer (-2), Jimmie Johnson (-32), Paul Menard (-71), and Chris Buescher (-85).